BRICS and G7 are two groups of countries that have significant influence and impact on the world economy, politics, and security. Both groups aim to foster cooperation and dialogue among their members and with other countries and regions. However, they also differ in many aspects, such as their membership, history, objectives, and challenges. This article will compare and contrast BRICS and G7, and discuss their roles and relevance in the 21st century.
What are BRICS and G7?
BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, five emerging economies that have formed a political and economic alliance since 2009. The group was originally called BRIC, until South Africa joined in 2010. BRICS represents about 42% of the world's population, 23% of the world's GDP, and 17% of the world's trade. BRICS holds annual summits, where the leaders of the member countries discuss various issues of common interest, such as trade, investment, infrastructure, energy, climate change, health, education, and security. BRICS also has several institutions and initiatives, such as the New Development Bank (NDB), the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), the BRICS Business Council, and the BRICS Think Tank Council.
G7 is a group of seven advanced economies that have been meeting regularly since 1975. The group consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union is also represented at the G7 meetings. G7 accounts for about 10% of the world's population, 40% of the world's GDP, and 31% of the world's trade. G7 holds annual summits, where the leaders of the member countries discuss global issues, such as economic growth, trade, finance, security, democracy, human rights, and the environment. G7 also coordinates policies and actions through various ministerial meetings, working groups, and outreach sessions.
How did BRICS and G7 emerge?
BRICS and G7 have different origins and histories. BRICS emerged as a concept in 2001, when Jim O'Neill, an economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the term BRIC to describe the four large and fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. He predicted that these countries would become the dominant economic powers by 2050, surpassing the G7 countries. In 2006, the foreign ministers of the BRIC countries met for the first time in New York, and in 2009, the first BRIC summit was held in Russia. The group expanded to include South Africa in 2010, and adopted the name BRICS. Since then, BRICS has evolved from an economic concept to a political and strategic partnership, with a shared vision of a more multipolar and equitable world order.
G7 emerged as a response to the global economic and political turmoil of the 1970s, such as the oil crisis, the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, and the Cold War. In 1975, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States met in France to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the global economy. They agreed to form a forum for regular consultations and coordination, which became known as the Group of Six (G6). Canada joined the group in 1976, and the group became the Group of Seven (G7). The group also invited the Soviet Union, and later Russia, to join the discussions on political and security issues, forming the Group of Eight (G8). However, in 2014, Russia was suspended from the G8 due to its annexation of Crimea, and the group reverted to the G7. Since then, G7 has continued to play a leading role in shaping the global agenda and addressing the major challenges of the 21st century.
What are the main objectives and achievements of BRICS and G7?
BRICS and G7 have different objectives and achievements, reflecting their diverse backgrounds and interests.
BRICS aims to promote the interests and voice of the developing and emerging countries in the global arena, and to enhance the cooperation and solidarity among its members. Some of the main achievements of BRICS are:
- The establishment of the NDB and the CRA, which provide alternative sources of financing and liquidity for the BRICS and other developing countries, and complement the existing international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- The launch of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), which aims to foster innovation, digitalization, and industrialization among the BRICS and other developing countries, and to address the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- The adoption of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which outlines the common principles and approaches of the BRICS to combat terrorism and extremism, and to enhance the cooperation and coordination among the BRICS and other countries and organizations in this field.
G7 aims to promote the values and interests of the democratic and market-oriented countries in the global arena, and to uphold the rules-based international order. Some of the main achievements of G7 are:
- The creation of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which monitors and regulates the global financial system, and the implementation of the Basel III standards, which strengthen the resilience and stability of the banking sector.
- The launch of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which mobilizes and disburses resources to support the prevention and treatment of these diseases, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which set the targets and indicators for the global development agenda until 2015.
- The adoption of the Charlevoix Commitment on Innovative Financing for Development, which pledges to mobilize $2.6 billion to support the education of women and girls in crisis and conflict situations, and the Biarritz Partnership for Gender Equality, which endorses the legal, economic, and political empowerment of women and girls around the world.
What are the main challenges and criticisms of BRICS and G7?
BRICS and G7 also face various challenges and criticisms, both internally and externally.
BRICS faces the following challenges and criticisms:
- The lack of cohesion and trust among the members, due to their divergent political systems, ideologies, and interests, as well as their historical and territorial disputes. For example, India and China have a long-standing border conflict, which escalated into a deadly clash in 2020. Brazil and South Africa have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the dominance of China and India in the group.
- The difficulty of translating the declarations and agreements into concrete actions and outcomes, due to the absence of a formal structure, a binding mechanism, and a clear division of responsibilities and resources. For example, the NDB and the CRA have been slow to disburse loans and funds, and have faced criticism for their lack of transparency and accountability.
- The limited influence and legitimacy in the global governance, due to the resistance and skepticism of the established powers, such as the G7 and the US, and the lack of support and recognition from the other developing and emerging countries, which view BRICS as a self-serving and exclusive club.
G7 faces the following challenges and criticisms:
- The loss of relevance and representativeness in the changing world, due to the rise of new powers, such as China and India, and the decline of the G7's economic and political weight and leadership. For example, the G7's share of the global GDP has fallen from 65% in 1975 to 40% in 2020. The G7 has also failed to prevent or resolve some of the major crises of the recent years, such as the 2008 financial crisis, the 2011 Arab Spring, and the 2014 Ukraine crisis.
- The lack of cohesion and consensus among the members, due to their different perspectives, priorities, and interests, as well as their domestic and regional challenges. For example, the US under the Trump administration adopted a unilateral and protectionist approach, and withdrew from several multilateral agreements and institutions, such as the Paris Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The UK's exit from the EU also created uncertainty and tension in the transatlantic relationship.
- The difficulty of engaging and cooperating with the other countries and regions, due to the perception and reality of the G7's exclusivity, elitism, and paternalism. For example, the G7's attempts to expand its membership or outreach have met with resistance and rejection from the potential or invited partners, such as Russia, China, India, and Brazil. The G7's initiatives and proposals have also been criticized for being ineffective, insufficient, or self-serving, such as the G7's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt relief for the poor countries, and the proposal for a global minimum corporate tax.
BRICS and G7 are two important groups of countries that have shaped and will continue to shape the global affairs in the 21st century. Both groups have their strengths and weaknesses, achievements and challenges, opportunities and threats. Both groups also have their roles and responsibilities, as well as their potentials and limitations, in addressing the common and complex